Today I heard Sarah Vine – a columnist for the Daily Mail – on the BBC Radio Five Emma Barnett Show. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has recognised the problems encountered when patients try to come off long-term anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drugs and has called for NICE to provide guidance on the medical, social and psychological support that such patients should be given. Right now the problem is not recognised and so patients may be given no support at all. Sarah Vine was talking to Emma about her own seven year use of anti-depressant and her inability to give them up.
So whatever we think of Sarah’s political views it is to her credit that she has written about this subject form a personal point of view and appeared on the show.
It seems Sarah’s journey has been typical – she described her symptoms leading to being prescribed the drugs… how they helped her with her problems … and then how, although she reduced her dosage, she had failed on each occasion she had tried to come off the drugs. She explained that the drugs reduced her mood swings – and while this removed the major lows it also meant that she was “emotionally anesthetised” – so that she failed to enjoy the things in life that she should – hence her desire to move on from the drugs. All sounds pretty typical.
So the drugs do work- but the price is that they are hard to come off. I have previously written about the level of prescribing of such drugs especially to under sixteens.
What grabbed my attention was Emma’s question asking if Sarah would have started out on the anti-depressants if she had known what she knows now. Sarah said the drugs had really help her … pause… but perhaps knowing what she knows now she might have tried other solutions before resorting to the drugs.
Yet studies have shown that mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is at least as effective as anti-depressants pills – yet without the longer-term problems it would seem. At Carina Sciences we would like to investigate at ways to make Rezl available to those who would like to try MBCT before reporting to drugs. If you are in such apposition then please contract us. If you are a healthcare or support organisation who would like to engage with us then please contact us also.